Saturday, March 15, 2003

File Under Music: Reviews and Missing Pieces

Home alone all afternoon, Darcie, baby and dog up at the inlaws in Brattleboro. Messing with the stereo. Thinking about music.

The holes in my music collection aren't physical; they exist only in my memory. Each is a CD or record lost, stolen, sold for grocery money when we were living on minimum wage and not always making it. The three early Bobby McFerrin albums lent out to a fellow Bard College student weeks before I dropped out in 1992. Robert Palmer's excellent Marvin Gaye and Dylan covers on 1990's Don't Explain, sold but sorely missed. Hole, Medeski Martin and Wood, two Sublime albums, all stolen from the media center the first year I worked here.

I don't know why I never buy those albums when I bump into them in record stores. Maybe I'm subconsciously convinced that they sounded better in my head all those missing years. Maybe I'm just too stubborn to repurchase something I already bought once. I suppose I do already own a single-copy license, so could in-good-conscience go to Kazaa...but most of these are either too obscure for mass distribution or are a Sublime album (I do have the Sublime mp3s, legally, I figure, even though I downloaded them off student computers shared across the LAN).

The new self-titled Trey Anastasio album I bought yesterday is really growing on me. The River's been playing Alive Again and, more recently, Cayman Review, a one-two punch at the top of the order folky enough for a station which plays Muddy Waters and PJ Harvey. But now that the whole think loops on the stereo, the album feels good. It runs raggedly consistent from top to bottom, a full experience, as the eclectic tracks run the gamut from acoustic through world music and funk to all out jam. It's not Phish, but pretty good for what it is.

When I got the stereo a couple of years ago, a gift from my father, I chose a record player over a tape deck. It was an easy decision. I knew CD burning was coming, and tapes have always pissed me off. Tapes just seem to me like a mismatched technology when applied to popular music -- there's no easy way to just play one song, or just the songs you like, and skip over the rest.

But although I now have a decent turntable (albeit just one, and no microphone), it supports a lamp, primarily because the tall corner entertainment center looks weird in the corner without a lamp on top of it. The best of the vinyl is out, while three milk cartons full remain in storage, but I hadly hear this music anymore, even in my head, it's been so long. These, too, become missing pieces, literally. Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones, Velvet Underground and Nico, an obscure Dinosaur Jr. EP with a cover of the Cure's Just Like Heaven on one side, and an unplayable image carved-out of the vinyl, a collage of of body organs and, curiously, a box of rice crisps, on the other. If only there was another place to put the lamp. If only it wasn't so dark, and peaceful and sweet, just sitting here doing nothing in the middle of the afternoon, listening to Dolly Parton's voice as it cuts through the fog.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:49 PM |

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